Helton: First downs key, Stanford best in the world at third and short
Clay Helton would never reveal too much strategy in a post practice press conference. But when it comes to playing Stanford, there aren’t too many secrets about what will win that contest.
The Cardinal play a physical, run first style of football. The only way to beat them is to compete in the trenches. Getting blown off the ball means getting blown out of the game. Putting Stanford’s offense in a third and long and getting the ball out of Bryce Love’s hands means there’s a chance for success.
Helton says first and second down defense will be a big emphasis in practice this week.
“When we looked at our first and second down efficiency against them last year, especially first down, it was under three yards on first down efficiency,” Helton said directly after USC’s Tuesday practice. “I think it was about 2.6. That really helped us because when you talk about them being 3rd and 7 or 10 compared to 3rd and 1 or 3, 3rd and 1 to 3 versus Stanford they’re the best in the world at making that. So we preach to our kids all week how important those first downs will be for us. It will be that same way this time around.”